A UNIVERSITY of Worcester academic has been recognised for his contribution to the city’s LGBTQ+ community.
Dr Daniel Somerville, senior lecturer in Drama and Performance, was awarded the Mayor of Worcester’s Best of Worcester Award 2020.
He shared the award with community organisers Amanda Hickling and Andre Oldfield and was honoured by former Mayor of Worcester, Coun Allah Ditta, at a socially distanced ceremony outside the Guildhall.
The three recipients founded Worcestershire Pride and oversaw the governance and events of the voluntary organisation from 2016 to 2019.
“On a personal level it is obviously a great honour to be recognised by the city for the work I have done,” said Dr Somerville, director of Arts for Worcestershire Pride.
“On a wider level, it is significant in that members of the LGBTQ+ community are being recognised with an award at all. So it means a great deal and it is a pleasure to share it with other long standing community organisers.”
The Worcestershire Pride organising committee was formed in 2016 in response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida to support for a vigil for the LGBTQ+ community to express their solidarity with victims and their families.
The Worcestershire Pride festival was held in 2017 and Worcester’s first Pride parade took place in 2018 with both continuing last year.
“The fact that a relatively small community like in Worcestershire can gather each year helps build connections between organisations, offering support to LGBTQ+ people and, through being an open to all, outward facing event,” he added.
Alongside these activities, Dr Somerville also directed an arts and culture festival showcasing ‘queer art and performance’. As part of this, he presented a public lecture on queerness in opera at the Hive in 2017, and in 2018 performed his show, Admiring La Stupenda, about an opera queen’s obsession with Dame Joan Sutherland, at Worcester Arts Workshop.
“The work we have done since 2016 has changed the landscape in Worcester for the LGBTQ+ community,” Dr Somerville said.
“It has placed Worcestershire Pride on the calendar. It’s hard to explain how a simple gesture like encountering a Pride flag as you go into the train station or how seeing a flag flying from the University buildings for example, has a huge positive effect on LGBTQ+ individuals.
“There has also been an increase in arts events showcasing queer artwork in the city and all this contributes to a richer cultural life for the city and forms part of the legacy of Worcestershire Pride.”